Rick Scott Labels Bill Nelson a 'Hypocrite' for Stiffing Staff on Health Insurance, Dodging Taxes

Sen. Bill Nelson / Getty Images
July 17, 2018

Florida's Republican governor Rick Scott slammed Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) after a Washington Free Beacon report revealed the incumbent senator's campaign had been avoiding expenses such as health insurance and payroll tax by using only contract labor.

"He's been a hypocrite," said Scott, who is running to take Nelson's seat in the Senate.

"Here’s a guy who likes to raise our taxes all the time, Bill Nelson, and at the same time we got a report last week that for his campaign, he’s not even paying his payroll taxes," Scott said. "And on top of that he likes all these big government health care mandates, and he’s not even paying his own employees’ health care."

The Free Beacon investigation into Nelson's campaign finances found that he was the only incumbent Democrat running for reelection without a full-time employee on staff. In place of full-time employees, the filings showed his campaign was using independent contractors.

The decision to staff his campaign with just contractors is a cost-cutting measure, allowing it to avoid the many costs associated with providing full-time employment. This cycle, his campaign has registered no disbursements for payroll, payroll tax, or health insurance—expenses that add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for large campaigns.

His campaign declined to provide an explanation to the Free Beacon, but confirmed the findings of the report to Florida reporters, calling it a "very common start-up model."

"Nelson’s campaign responded by insisting that Scott’s criticisms are based partly on out-of-date information, and partly on the fact that the Nelson campaign followed a very common start-up model: For the first few months the campaign was run and staffed significantly by consultants—independent contractors who get paid a contract amount and are on their own for dealing with taxes and benefits," wrote Scott Powers of Florida Politics.

The campaign also said it had began replacing contractors with full-time employees this month.

Those changes wouldn't be reflected in its upcoming Federal Election Commission filing, which is due later this month and covers campaign expenses through June 30.

Nelson's campaign, as of his last filing, had more than $10 million in cash on hand.